or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Pregnancy and Birth › Birth and Beyond › Unassisted Childbirth › giving birth the "most dangerous thing a woman will do in her lifetime" ?!
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

giving birth the "most dangerous thing a woman will do in her lifetime" ?! - Page 3

post #41 of 89
Originally Posted by zoebird View Post
[Fear] We had to look it square in the face and see What It Is.

We had to Know It.
YES! You hit the nail on the head.

(This also very applicable to life in general!)
post #42 of 89
Originally Posted by tessie View Post
Just a side note, but I do find it slightly irritating that birth on mothering.com almost always refers to birth in America. I appreciate that a high proportion of mamas here are American but most of the world is not.
Well, that is because of all "developed first world countries" one of the worst offenders of childbirth rights is America.

Just like any person /country in such a place of power, America has a responsibility to set precedence. This is especially important when a powerful country is telling other countries how to operate economically and socially by legislating foreign policy and trade.

It is shameful that such a rich and powerful country has such poor maternal mortality rates. And Yes-I am American.


This thread is about UC as an informed decision. UC, freebirthing etc. is a choice-it is not a happenstance situation where adequate care and education was not available. That is a wholly separate topic. Obviously, one for another thread having to do with impoverished populations having access to education and health care regardless of country.


post #43 of 89
Originally Posted by Rosegarden77 View Post

It is shameful that such a rich and powerful country has such poor maternal mortality rates. And Yes-I am American.
Why is that? Is it (at least in part) because of the cost of healthcare?
post #44 of 89
I would say that driving in a car is the most dangerous thing we do. Women are alot more likely to die in a car accident than in birth.
post #45 of 89
This has been very interesting to read. I have to say that I side with the folks who say that giving birth is NOT the most dangerous thing a woman can/will do in her lifetime. I do believe that, whether by some divine design or by nature's messy selection, that our bodies are made capable of having babies naturally and safely. I'm not saying that it is absolutely safe, but as others have said, as safe as anything else.

What Zoebird said about fear really rang true... How much do our attitudes towards birth affect its safety? If we believe something horrible will happen, is it more likely to happen? Correct me if I am wrong, but I think modern medicine has acknowledged the connection between our emotional state and our health and well being. I think if a doctor believes that childbirth is the most dangerous thing a woman will ever do then they are far more likely to act on that... Being a UCer myself, I think giving birth myself and where I feel comfortable is probably much safer than giving birth in a hospital. I think giving birth is safer than a lot of the other things I've done in my life, and will continue to do in the future(drive, eat out, whatever). Those are my opinions.

As for facts... And this is an American fact(I have no clue where this stands in other countries)... The THIRD leading cause of death for EVERYONE in America is MEDICAL MALPRACTICE. Only heart disease and cancer kill more people. And these are sicknesses. Pregnancy and childbirth are NOT a sickness, so in my mind I am not going to go see a medical professional for a normal physiological process my body was made to deal with when it is quite clear that aside from sickness, doctors and nurses kill more people than anything else in a very large and developed first world country. Now THAT sounds dangerous to me.
post #46 of 89
I think that posting this in the UC forum sort of skews the perspective a bit. If we look at the statement as "Giving birth is the most dangerous think most women will do in their lifetime," I think we can see that it is true. Most women in our country do not HB or UC, and many do not have proper prenatal care. Worldwide, many women in the do not have access to proper food, clean water, and skilled MW, all of which reduce childbirth risks. Most women do not live in a war zone, or participate in games of russian roulete. This makes childbirth the most dangerous thing these women do.

Here in the states, most women go to a hospital and turn themselves over to the medical model. What other activity do we do that has a 30-40% chance of major surgury? When I get in my car and drive, I do not have a 30% chance of ending my day with surgical staples, drugs, blood transfusions, and all the other complications that can arise from a hospital delivery. Or taking home a multi-drug resistant strain of Staph infection along with my free diapers.

That said, I am a firm beleiver that most (far more than the 70% seen at most US hospitals!) women are able to safely vaginally deliver a baby. You have to realize that causes of death do not accuratly portray what actually caused the death. Heart failure can be caused by heart disease, or by throwing a clot after your c-section. The latter will not be listed as caused by childbirth. It is simply listed as heart failure. We cover up rates of maternial death in this country by simply making it impossible to die of childbirth. You die from hemmorage, or heart failure, or infection. Not from childbirth.

I suffered from PPH after one of my HB, and would most likly have died without medical care and a blood transfusion. As my mother said, 200 years ago I would have died. I have great respect for OB's, and feel they can and do save the lives of mothers and babies. The mistake is in thinking that all women need that level of care, when in truth most do not.

Yes, you are more likely to die in a car accident, but you drive everyday, and only birth a few times, if at all. Frequency and duration have to be considered if you are going to do a true risk assessment.
post #47 of 89
Originally Posted by StrongBeliever View Post
As for facts... And this is an American fact(I have no clue where this stands in other countries)... The THIRD leading cause of death for EVERYONE in America is MEDICAL MALPRACTICE. Only heart disease and cancer kill more people.
I'm wondering where you read that? I've been googling, and found a report put out by something called the "Millenial Research Group" that says it's the fifth most common form of death in the US. They are a group which serves the medical intervention industry, and don't exactly seem unbiased on this issue. Most of the press release I found about this survey is about the things hospitals can buy to prevent mistakes. The purpose of the "study" seemed mostly to be about selling computerized medical records systems.

According to the CDC, the 10 most common causes of death in the US are:
Heart disease: 616,067
Cancer: 562,875
Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 135,952
Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 127,924
Accidents (unintentional injuries): 123,706
Alzheimer's disease: 74,632
Diabetes: 71,382
Influenza and Pneumonia: 52,717
Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 46,448
Septicemia: 34,828
post #48 of 89
Remember that the statement is childbirth is DANGEROUS, not childbirth is deadly. Dangerous can mean risk of injury, blood loss, or even just pain and bruising. In that light, I think we can all agree that childbirth is dangerous, even for us well cared for women in the western world. Even a perfect birth can cause tearing, bruising, blood loss and an extended recovery period.
post #49 of 89
Originally Posted by tessie View Post
Why is that? Is it (at least in part) because of the cost of healthcare?
Yup-this is definitely part of the problem-along with education about health choices, and even access to adequate health care. There are parts of this country on and off reservations (esp in the southern states) that do not have adequate health care to offer because of lack of funding for facilities, staffing, and resources. There really should be more community clinics for folks who have no insurance coverage. I think it would be great for cities to have neighborhood clinics available, where even the poorest areas have adequate coverage.

Wouldn't it be amazing to only have to walk a couple of blocks to have baby seen for a rash or ear ache? Unfortunately, to fund such things you have to get a majority of voters to agree that having a healthy population is in everyone's best interest. There are a lot of people who have a hard time looking past themselves and committing some of their disposable income to causes that don't 'directly' benefit them.

Though our quality of life for the poor is still much better than most countries-the poor still suffer-and we have many impoverished areas here in the states.

America is an amazing country but it could be so much more.
post #50 of 89
Originally Posted by MeepyCat View Post
Mamabadger, one of the things that routinely makes me crazy about this kind of conversation is that, in general, people *don't* point out the flaws in current obstetric thinking or practice. They point out the flaws in outdated obstetric thinking (as you have in your post), or they point out flaws that don't actually exist in obstetric thinking (like inattention to nutrition, which made an appearance upthread).
I'm glad you had an OB who paid attention to nutrition. I have, in the course of my reproductive life, dealt with six separate OBs (to varying degrees - one was solely for the c-section and post-partum visit, and I'm glad I never had to see him again - while I don't for one second believe that all, or even most, male OBs go into the profession because they hate women, I'd put down good money that he did so), one midwife and two family doctors. The only one of those who ever paid any attention to my nutrition was the midwife. One of the family doctors (and she does a lot of obstetrics and did assist with two of my five c-sections) told me flat out to make sure I took a prenatal vitamin - didn't matter what kind - and I'd be fine, but to be certain I took it, because "it's not possible to get adequate nutrition to support a pregnancy solely from diet".

I've got eight nieces and nephews, and have been around a large number of pregnant women in the last decade and a half or so. Very, very few of them have ever had so much as a single conversation about nutrition with their "care" providers. We have a provincial publication about prenatal care, and it does address nutrition, but not in any depth. The topic is given some lip service, then ignored.

I'm glad your experiences were different, but your experience doesn't mean that the idea that OBs don't pay attention to nutrition is flawed or wrong. Many of them don't.
post #51 of 89
When it all comes down to it, the reason I do not trust doctors (take their word for it) is because most of their knowledge is one sided and their decisions are influenced by money. They all work on commission. Hospitals main source of income comes from the labor and delivery wings. I do believe that educated women have the best chance of a healthy delivery whether at home or in the hospital. Accept nothing, question everything, learn something.

I am grateful we have access to medical knowledge and technology. When needed it is a great blessing. Though I have been blessed with a body that gives birth easily and have had wonderful, problem free, unassisted births my daughter will have no such luck. She has a double uterus and PCOS and will have to use medical knowledge and expertise to give birth. Even though she will most likely have to give birth in a hospital I have made it clear to her that this is no excuse to not educate one's self on all possible options and possibilities.
post #52 of 89


Those are a couple links. Take into account those statistics you listed above are studies done by the Center for DISEASE Control. They are looking at diseases, not the whole picture(accidents got a nod). IMO, no study can really pinpoint exactly how dangerous anything is. I don't think there are studies out there that take EVERYTHING into account. Anything can be made to look scary and overwhelming depending on who does the study and how it is done.

My point is that ANY DARN THING in the world is dangerous. We can do math until we are cross eyed, but there are so many factors involved that no one can say ANYTHING is certain or absolute. The lady on TV who had nineteen babies hasn't died. But there is probably a story of some woman who died out in the world on the third time she ever took a plane ride. Yes, there is risk involved in giving birth. But apparently it is also quite risky to eat spinach. Who is to say which is more so? It's all in how you look at it, what information you take into account. I don't think, given ALL the dangerous things that happen all over the world, that any one has done a study comprehensive enough to say that childbirth is THE VERY MOST dangerous thing a woman can do. And we can all agree the the medical profession has something to gain by women thinking they NEED medical care for pregnancy and childbirth.
post #53 of 89

essentially, yes. as they say here in NZ, "it can all go to custard."

how we individually choose to mitigate is really about how we perceive ourselves and how to best mitigate those risks. this is why birth-choice is so important.

to go back to the rock climbing example, there are many ways of climbing. they all carry the same risk of injury and death, but some have more "safeguards" in place than others. from top rope climbing with a staff member belaying in a gym to free soloing out on any rock you would like.

depending upon the individual, one may be far preferred above another. i had a friend--who had been climbing for over 50 years--who loved free soloing above all other forms of climbing. it was how he started, and he truly believed it was the safest way to climb. "less to worry about" he said "fewer things to have go wrong." it was just you, trusting yourself, that you could climb the rock. he would often do it in the gym (against policy), just to demonstrate that it's largely about understanding those risks, and discerning whether or not those risks applied to you in particular.

i think the same is true here.

we can talk about the many benefits and drawbacks of UCing, of using OB care, of using a midwife. We can talk about how using those may or may not mitigate certain risks (particularly in how they apply to one as an individual) that we perceive ourselves to be at greater risk for, but this doesn't get to the real core of it, which is truly accepting that the risk exists no matter what.

it just does. if we accept that it exists, and come to terms with it, then we are truly free to choose what the right setting for our birth is. just as we are able to chose the right setting for rock climbing for us.

for the record, when it came to rock climbing, i preferred the controlled conditions of the rock gym. LOL
post #54 of 89
Originally Posted by MeepyCat View Post
Here's the thing: your sister is right. When you crunch all the numbers, add 'em up, look at incidence per population and compare the number of times you give birth to the number of times you drive to the store, et-interminably-cetera, giving birth is the activity most likely to kill you. Also most likely to kill the baby.

Humans, as a species, did manage to survive before pitocin and vacuum-assisted delivery and so on, but the risk of dying in childbirth used to be incredibly much higher than it is today. And the mortality rates for unassisted delivery are higher than those for hospital birth.

The continuation of the species doesn't require the survival of any particular individual. Your sister, as an individual, has an investment in your continued survival, however, and being a doctor, she certainly has some ideas about how to improve your odds. (Improving your odds, however, is not her job and not her call.)

In places where women lack access to medical facilities and qualified caregivers, the mortality rates associated with birthing remain very high. Flip it around - if birth is safe, please explain perinatal mortality rates in Sierra Leone.

That said: you have the right to decide how you are going to respond to risk in your life.
WOW. Please ignore that post. And yes, do your research. I personally know *14* children who were born at home, via UC or Daddy delivery, and in each and every case, they were all fine.

I was trying for a UC but went to the hospital (I got scared - if I'd realized I was in transition, I would've stayed home!). I felt DD move into a different position while on the drive there. Her shoulder got stuck very briefly on her way out, due to me being strapped to a bed for 30 minutes while in *TRANSITION* at the hospital.

She had an apgar of 9 (out of 10!) and the only reason it wasn't a 10 was because her shoulder got stuck, which, as I said, had to do with being flat on my back instead of on all fours, or walking, etc.

Anyway, you can't compare birth rates in Sierra Leone with a UC Mama here in the States for a couple reasons: we are capable of being much more educated about childbirth, we have clean homes, rather than dirt floors, access to running water, etc, etc, etc.

Give me a break
post #55 of 89
I know that this is a forum that supports UC, and I think US (like home birth, and like hospital birth) is fine and appropriate for the right population and in the right circumstances. Personally, I had 2 hospital births that resulted in no complications or adverse outcomes whatsoever. I personally know a number of women (I haven't counted - maybe 14, maybe more, I didn't take a survey) whose lives and/or the lives of their children were saved by medical intervention in hospitals. I know at least one woman (again, I didn't take a survey and I don't routinely quiz my acquaintances on their birth experiences) who would have died along with her child without intensive medical intervention.

Statistically, birth is dramatically less safe than crossing the street, flying in a plane, or eating deli meats. I think it's important to evaluate statistics carefully. I mean, I could wander through the UC forums over the past year and count a number of women and babies whose UC resulted in an adverse outcome. BabyMae, on the other hand, can consider the birthing experiences of her social set and count 14 women who had great UCs.

Just because something is statistically true doesn't mean that statistic will be evenly represented in the entire population. Flying commercially, for example, is dramatically safer than flying in a private plane, and commercial air passengers are less likely to die while traveling. Likewise, UC is relatively safe for the right population of women in the right health and with the right circumstances.

I think it's entirely over-the-top and reactionary to say that MeepyCat's post should be ignored. She has a point.
post #56 of 89
i saw MeepyCat's main point to be that UC is irresponsible and unnecessarily dangerous. I disagree with this opinion. i believe that that statement can easily be dismissed.

other points might be relevant to discussions about how one might choose to mitigate risks in birth, but it doesn't go to the core issue of accepting those risks head on, which exists regardless of station or location. as i said, any birth can go 'straight to custard' and no amount of medical intervention or lack there of would change the outcome.

thankfully, due to many factors, death and severe injuries associated with birth have dramatically decreased. modern medicine is one reason for this. others include better nutrition, better hygiene, better education. better living conditions overall (such as adequate protection from environmental extremes like deep winter or desert conditions), and so on are also part of the equation.

i think it is possible to state these facts without accusing women who are choosing to forgo attendants (for any number of reasons, including their perception of risk, mitigation of risk, and safety) of being irresponsible.

but then, i could have read too much into her statements.
post #57 of 89
Originally Posted by zoebird View Post
i saw MeepyCat's main point to be that UC is irresponsible and unnecessarily dangerous. I disagree with this opinion. i believe that that statement can easily be dismissed.
Actually, I think that my point is two things:

1. Homebirth and unassisted birth are more dangerous than hospital birth (statistically), and birth - wherever you are, however you are attended - is risky.
2. You have the right to determine how you respond to risk in your life.
post #58 of 89
Originally Posted by MeepyCat View Post
Actually, I think that my point is two things:

1. Homebirth and unassisted birth are more dangerous than hospital birth (statistically), and birth - wherever you are, however you are attended - is risky.
2. You have the right to determine how you respond to risk in your life.
As someone touched on upthread (unless I'm mixing up my threads again - it wouldn't be the first time), saying one place or another is statistically more dangerous is more or less meaningless. First of all, we have to define "danger". I've had four "safe" births (healthy baby, healthy mom), according to the stats. They weren't any such thing, and the mom isn't healthy. None of the aftermath of my hospital experiences shows up in my charts - not my physical issues, not my psychological ones. If we're only considering life threatening issues, then maybe the hospital is safer - I'm not up on the stats, and I sometimes wonder if anybody really knows, anyway - but when everything is factored in, it's nowhere near that clearcut.
post #59 of 89
Originally Posted by MsBlack View Post
Yes, tessie, in an important way, you are right--UC as we know it here IS born of first world privilege: that is, we are by and large well fed, well housed and sufficiently educated to learn how to take care of our health. With a very wide range of all those things among us, sure--but still, I'd venture to guess that all who post and lurk here are tons better off, even if on foodstamps or living in some form of assisted housing, than the great majority of women on the planet. This is something I've never forgotten in my darkest hours of financial stress (which have been pretty dark from time to time, including brief periods of being homeless and longer stints of living in gov-assisted housing).

However, that is actually the point. Women who are reasonably well fed and sheltered, and informed enough to take reasonably good care of themselves, are the least likely to have birth complications requiring med assistance. A few of us on this thread are testament to the fact that even among us, occasionally med assistance is needed. And we are the exceptions to the rule. Again, no one is saying that birth always works out perfectly well!

And your point about the white ribbon alliance...??? Yes, the plight of those women is tragic beyond words...and yet, what they need are not more doctors, because doctors don't provide 'health care'--they provide illness care. Those families do need actual health care: they need more good food, clean water and shelter, they need less bombing and imperialism and murder of their native cultures and ruination of the native lands that once provided them with food, shelter, medicine, HOME. They need what most of us enjoy, to some far greater degree than they have, every day...the ordinary things that ennable most women to enjoy normal birth, the great majority of the time.

You can talk about exceptions to the rule like placenta previa til the cows come home...you can cite places in the world where bombs are falling and food is scarce due to imperialism and the rape of native cultures. lands and food supplies...and you *still* won't be talking about 'normal birth', and it's wonderful design that most often works just fine--when it has 1/2 a chance, through decent nutrition and all the other normal things that make the great majority of us 'normally healthy'.

And meepycat--i don't know where you live, but in most places OBs don't give much thought to nutrition, and do practice all kinds of NON evidence based care that hurt women and babies in ways large and small, every day. The maternity system is a total mess--and it exists for profit, not for women and babies.
agree, agree and agree. I had several different OB's and nurses with an HMO in California with both my first and second pregnancies. The ONLY nutritional advice I got, other than being handed a flyer with the pyramid food chart on it, was "quit eating so much salt, it's making you swell". That was IT. Pathetic. I asked about different foods, about heartburn, about swelling and reduction in salt intake was the only advice I received. Later, while struggling with what turned out to be celiac's disease, I received almost NO information about nutrition until I was referred to a nutritionist, who was uninformed about celiac's and not helpful at all. It's a problem system wide, and not to say that midwives are fantastic about nutritional advice.... it varies widely based on training, for both.

Birth works just about as well as the rest of life... most of the time it works just fine, as most people seem to go about life just fine. We all have our individual issues and we have societal issues, but claiming that birth is the most dangerous thing in life for EVERY woman that gives birth is just silly. It makes no logical sense. Especially in our country, where heart disease, obesity, diabetes are much much more dangerous for many many more women than childbirth is, regardless of where the childbirth is occuring or with which attendant. Whereas childbirth might have been the most dangerous thing an individual woman might have experienced, so might have been a fight against cancer, a severe car accident, an illness, a life-threatening situation or some other dangerous incident. I think it's obvious that childbirth is NOT the most dangerous thing for MOST women today, in first world countries, or the mortality rate would be much higher. And in many first world countries, homebirth is common, midwifery care is common and there is a lot of common sense in transferring to medical care when necessary as well, which means that we can have the best of both worlds, both homebirth, midwifery care, and medical care, if needed.
I think there is a big polarization in our country largely because many many doctors are trained that birth is horribly dangerous, fraught with constant complications and must be managed minutely and also sadly, trained that their way is the ONLY safe way to birth. It's not true, and unfortunately, sets up doctors and midwives to be adversarial rather than being able to coordinate care.
If women had the freedom to decide to UC and/or then consult with a midwife when wanted and or needed, and to be referred to an OB IF NEEDED, and still would retain their respect and autonomy, it would go a long way towards providing the "perfect" birthing environment for women. Some could choose to be home, alone, some could be home with midwives, some could be in birthing centers, with midwives, nurses, and even ob's, and those who TRULY NEEDED medical care, could also be attended in the hospital. It should always be in the hands of the mothers, the people who are the most affected by their own decisions. The pressures on some mothers are enormous, to birth in the hospital, where it's "safe" and not to be "crazy" and try and birth at home. The pressures can be reversed too, sadly, and I have seen women berated for going to the hospital, saying they didn't trust birth enough, when they did truly need medical care. The pendulum swings too far on either side sadly,too often.
post #60 of 89
Originally Posted by lach View Post
I'm going to have to agree with MeepyCat that humans are actually pretty poorly designed to give birth.

Childbirth in humans has always been riskier than in any other mammals...
except that IIRC hyenas have a 15% maternal mortality rate for primiparas. (Their external genitalia are masculinized and they essentially give birth through a penis. Ouch.)

The relative safety of childbirth is balanced against other design factors that improve survival generally but may make birth more difficult. For humans, that's a big head and an upright pelvis. For hyenas, it's masculinized female genitalia.

Personally, I'm not interested in being selected out of the gene pool so that future generations can be better designed for childbirth.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Unassisted Childbirth
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Pregnancy and Birth › Birth and Beyond › Unassisted Childbirth › giving birth the "most dangerous thing a woman will do in her lifetime" ?!